Hi everyone. Tonight saw the launch at the Scotia Bar of Anniversary Dance the first collection of poems from the pen of Derek Read.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the event, however having managed to get my hands on an advanced copy of the collection I thought a book review on this blog would hopefully be suitable penance for my non attendance at this historic occasion.
Firstly however, I’d like to start by giving readers an insight in to the author of this collection. Derek Read was born in the Whiral at a time when optimism was beginning to replace the austerity of the immediate post war years. The younger of two sons, Derek had a passion for literature & learning from his earliest years with poetry always a particular interest.
He qualified in nursing gaining his degree from Manchester University.
Derek has lived in both Manchester & London, before settling in Glasgow in 1986 a city he still calls home.
This collection reflects Derek’s poetry through different stages of his life. The opening poem is A goodbye journey, funny that, when your saying hello to your readers. In this poignant poem, Derek is taking us to Arran, where he is saying goodbye to a friend, ties to localities kin & to friends feature frequently in the work of a gifted wordsmith.
In the next two poems An Exile’s Return & the title poem of the collection Anniversary Dance we journey with him to the land of his birth & even those of us who have never set foot on Merseyside will feel we have a slightly increased knowledge of the area, thanks to the excellent use of imagry contained in these pieces. An example of this imagry is contained early in An Exile’s Return
‘back for a while, a roots- thing
the musk of Mersey smarting in my nose’
These well chosen words Illustrate to the reader the writer’s desire to re-connect with his past.
In the same piece he illustrates his disdain for the pretentious in humanity’s number by his mockery of them when after listening to the local commentator go on about corporate developments in what he refers to as ‘queenly Lancastrian’ & attempt to compare the Mersey to Dubai. Derek gives the situation a sense of perspective with these lines
‘Get real! a sense of proportion
this is Liverpool
at the start of a world-wide recession’
In contrast to these differing images of Liverpool, Anniversary Dance which was written for his Uncle & Aunts Diamond Wedding Anniversary in October 2010 shows the warmth of close kin gathering for a family celebration. In no lines of poetry could the enduring ties of love be better expressed than the words gifted to the couple by a proud & happy nephew
‘ Bert and May danced their love dance.
The anniversary waltz, the diamond dance
energy in old legs
Beautiful sentiments brilliantly expressed by a poet & master of his craft.
At this stage I feel I have to point out that Derek is not serious & sensible all the time, & he has an ability for quirky comic wit . This is an aspect of his work not seen as often as I believe It should be, though he demonstrates it brilliantly in the poem I Think It Must Be Summer with two long standing friends of his Wallace MacBain & myself as his victims, as he recalls a gorgeous sunny day in Tollcross Park with lines which describe a day when as Derek says the writers went walkabouts leaving their belongings behind them
‘But never fear, we placed a guard
Wallace, fearless, but without his sword.
And Gayle armed wi stellies and a potent word
To scare the joggies of incipient scallies
The neds and ne’er -do-wells of park fame’
An excellent example of Derek’s humour & yet again it shows the importance of friendship to this poet.
Though not political in the sense of this blogger, Derek has always shown an interest in politics from a more global perspective. In Turn of the Dice he chronicles the events of the Arab revolutions & the west’s unhealthy interests in maintaining the status quo. Nowhere is this point more forcibly made than in these lines
‘Financial deals done
In back rooms with the unchanging old guard
gold turning to shit
the oil slick of greasy palms’
This is not just excellent use of language & imagry. This is the voice of a poet saying the world deserves better.
This is the voice of a poet worth listening to. A poet worth reading
Anniversary Dance is published by Vision Street Press priced £5.00 & is my opinion well worth the money.
Love & Best Wishes